Then It Stayed On My Lips
With Blue tucked away and sleeping upstairs, I decided to take my leave of the girls and do some scouting around the town on my own. Violet looked like she needed time to herself, and probably keep an eye on the Fairy Queen from trying to do something to Blue while he was sleeping. It was rather cute seeing her looking zealous about protecting him.
That kid has got a good thing going, even if he sometimes seems like an impulsive idiot. The temporary love triangle aside, I could feel a bit of hurting in my heart looking at how they kept changing glances with each other. It reminded me a little of my first dates with Ariana years ago. Dammit, I should have brought her with me that night. Then maybe we could-
No that wasn’t good thinking. Even if she would be capable of holding her own, Clarion had talked with me about other dangers this adventure could be in. Not to mention how badly damaged Blue’s soul was. That could have easily been us there instead. Well, not entirely. This mess wouldn’t have happened if Blue wasn’t there.
I took a walk around the village, observing and watching the people moving around and interacting with each other. Several of the men were gathering supplies and weapons for the local lord’s army. It was somewhat fascinating how complex it all appeared for background characters to a story. Was this the worlds that authors made every time they started to write down tales? Even if the author themselves didn’t write about these little complexities did they exist somewhere in their minds as these tales were breathed life?
Maybe I was thinking way too meta about this. Still, after what had happened in the last village we had stayed at, I was keeping my ears open for any names getting called out. With the current situation, anyone with a real name could make this place a lot more dangerous for us. That kind of person would be a beacon for this invading army to charge in this direction without a doubt.
“Hey, you! Quick dawdling around and finish loading the wagon!”
I look up as someone shouted, seeing a rugged-looking guy stride up toward me with a frown. He was dressed in light armor, but his demeanor certainly said he was among authority around this part of the kingdom. As he got closer he seemed to notice that he didn’t recognize me.
“Who are you and what are you doing in this village?”
I felt slightly taken aback by his rudeness, though I quickly pushed down that feeling when I realized he probably had good reason right now to be distrustful of any strangers walking around casually in his village.
“Just taking a little time to stretch my legs while my friends rest in the Inn. My name is Harmon.”
“My suggestion is you and your friends should leave as soon as possible. This area is about to turn into a warzone and if you don’t want to be emergency conscripted into the army, it’s best you get away as fast as possible. Your friends can rest in the inner territories if you all want to stay alive and uncaptured.”
“Is the situation that bad?”
“There is no telling with foreign armies. I’ve heard their commander has a fondness for women and he doesn’t care about anything other than using them for his twisted pleasures.”
A fluttering of wings came nearby and I turned my head just in time to see Clarion fly down from above and perch himself on my shoulder. He looked at the man in front of me and made a quick whisper into my ear.
“We need to join him.”
I gave a slight nod in recognition, noting the surprised look on the man’s face.
“Are you heading toward the frontlines then?”
“Oui. The lords sent us instructions this morning to gather and prepare to sortie. I hope that we can stall them in time for the main royal army to gather and prepare to stop him. That Lord is moving swift so we need to be gathered and ready to fight tomorrow if we are to have any hope of slowing him down.”
I nodded and extended my hand, summoning my sword and pointing it down to the earth. The man’s eyes widened in fear a moment before narrowing at me with suspicion.
“Assassinating me won’t slow anything down….”
I shook my head at him.
“I’m the Red Hero. My companions and I would like to join you to fight off this invader. We were planning on coming to help. We just didn’t think he would have gotten this close so quickly.”
He continued to look at me with suspicion in his eyes. I let my sword disappear as we stood there for a few moments of near awkward silence. Taking a deep sigh he shook his head.
“I probably should be more cautious with you. Why didn’t you say anything until now?”
I gave a glance toward Clarion perched on my shoulder.
“I was planning on joining the main army. But it appears the situation may have changed too much to allow this to be deferred. If he is encroaching this quickly than trying to stall him now is better than trying to handle him later.”
The guy bit his inner lip in thought, looking at me and Clarion before shaking his head and giving a wave of a hand. Turning away and heading back toward the bustle of people.
“We are leaving in two hours. Get your friends together and ready by then or play catch up all the way to Belle Roux Pass. I don’t really care either way if you want to help us.”
I watched him walk away to get back to organizing the wagons and men gathered before turning around and walking off toward the inn. Clarion on my shoulder nodding approvingly, though he didn’t know about something.
“Blue is suffering from Mana crashing. He might not be able to fight tomorrow. I’m not sure if we can even get him to move, I had to carry him down the stairs so we could get some food in him.”
Clarion sighed and shook his head, I felt like he wanted to put his wing over his beak but he seems to refrain for the moment. Clicking his beak he shook his head and then gazed out across the village.
“That might be for the best. He needs to develop his combat skills a little more before I think he’s ready for this kind of action.”
I turned my head slightly and gave him a raised eyebrow.
“You do realize he fought off almost a dozen guards to storm into that ceremony yesterday morning?”
“And how many did he kill?”
I stopped in my tracks. That was a point I hadn’t quite thought about really.
“Right. He hasn’t killed anyone that I know of. But you don’t think he’s that innocent do you?”
I could almost feel the shrug coming from him.
“He’s forgotten, and technically, with these redos, he hasn’t actually killed anyone even if he had remembered it. And I know ye haven’t either. Not anything ye would consider Human enough to feel like ye has taken an actual life.”
I grimaced slightly at the accusation, but it wasn’t false by any means. I’ve killed demons and a village of zombies. And while I had felt bad about the later, it was more that I couldn’t prevent it more than feeling guilt over the actual deed. I tightened my jaw a moment. Could I bring myself to kill someone I thought was human? Did I think the people around me, excluding Blue and Violet, as humans in the first place?
“Ye and I can detach ourselves because that’s how we were trained. I was a soldier, and ye had brothers and yer short time as-”
“Yeah, if it came down to it I can swing a sword through someone around here. None of this is real anyway, right?”
Clarion didn’t answer quickly, in fact, he seems to pause far longer than anyone should in trying to answer this question.
“I can’t say yes for certain. I can’t tell if everything has been let out into reality, or if the boy managed to flip fiction and reality like a coin. But we’ve yet to find a single person here that isn’t named and not a character from a story.”
I nodded and looked at my hand, trying to imagine actually killing someone who looked and acted human. Did I really think of them as humans or is it just something I’m telling myself so I don’t become a monster in my own eyes?
“I can do it. Are you planning on having me fight the guy tomorrow?”
“I don’t think that would be a good idea. Participate and fight the rest of his army, but if he comes after ye just turn and run if possible. We don’t know his full capabilities, yet.”
“So I get some battle experience while we sacrifice the lives of soldiers to see how strong he is?”
Clarion sighed, we had made it to the inn a couple of moments ago but I remained outside while we had this conversation. It wasn’t one I wanted Violet or Blue to overhear just yet.
“Yes. These people would be dying fighting him in the first place if we weren’t there. This isn’t a place to play hero and save everyone. This is how ye must do things to survive, ye three have lives that are far more important than anyone else in this kingdom. Even mine.”
I took a deep breath.
“I’m not a Pagemaster. I’m only a teacher and you three can easily learn all you need in Elysium and from each other. If it ever comes that you have to choose me over the others. Save them. I’m old and only a spectator in all of this,” He chuckled to himself. “I don’t intend to put myself in a position to get killed tomorrow. Don’t worry about that.”
I nodded silently, he was an old soldier. He wouldn’t do something stupid. Though I secretly hoped he wasn’t raising a death flag for tomorrow.
“We should see how Blue is doing and if he can handle the journey.”
“Yes, And, Clarion-sama. I will keep them all safe as my power allows me to.”